Suzi Banks Baum is one of many area artisans and makers responding to the COVID-19 pandemic in a creative way. Photo: Christina Rahr Lane

Business Briefs: Creatives respond to COVID-19; virtual farmers’ market; Elizabeth Freeman Center services; virtual Berkshire Nonprofit Awards; Greylock annual report

Shoppers can now order food online from a variety of farmers and food producers thanks to Roots Rising’s new virtual farmers’ market.​

Berkshire creatives respond to COVID-19

Great Barrington — The local arts and maker community has responded to the stay-at-home orders during the COVID-19 pandemic in a variety of creative ways, including providing resources for activities for stay-at-home and self-quarantined households.

Suzi Banks Baum has introduced the 100 Day Primer self-guided workshop, which was inspired by the #100DayProject on Instagram. “The 100 Day Primer” is a downloadable ebook of 16 fleshed-out ideas about how to spend time in creative exploration. Banks Baum is also co-leading a free online writing workshop every Wednesday with her daughter Catherine. Together, they leads an average of 50 people in writing exercises designed to move past the creative blocks that this period of social isolation has put up.

Molly and Aurel de St. Andre of Berkshire Four Poster created and published the coloring book “Let’s Color the Berkshires,” which they will ship or deliver in Berkshire County. According to Molly de St. Andre: “Our coloring book is made up of 12 original double page spreads that feature kids enjoying fun Berkshire activities. The pages are thick premium paper, great for any medium — paint, marker, or crayon, etc. And it’s locally printed!”

In addition, Banks Baum, the de St. Andres, Cardinale Montano of Lineflax & Roving, and M. Designs are all sewing cloth masks to donate to health care workers. M. Designs is manufacturing cleaned anti-droplet masks free of charge to people in need in the community.

Berkshire Mountain Distillers is making batches of hand sanitizer, which, when in stock, is available for sale on its website, and at many other local establishments.

Janet Elsbach’s Instagram feed is full of pantry and refrigerator clean-out ideas and recipes, along with her usual brand of savory life advice.

–E.E.

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Roots Rising launches virtual farmers’ market

Pittsfield — Shoppers can now order food online from a variety of farmers and food producers thanks to Roots Rising’s new virtual farmers’ market.​

A weekly $30 credit is available to those with SNAP benefits, as well as those who have lost their jobs or have reduced income due to the pandemic. Food will be delivered to customers’ doorsteps by community volunteers. The delivery service is free to SNAP recipients, those suffering economic hardship, seniors, and anyone else at high risk for the virus. Delivery for all other community members is $5, which will go toward covering the costs of running the service.

There is a maximum order number of 100 and, when that number is reached, the service will close until the following week. For more information, contact Roots Rising at (413) 344-0816 or info@rootsrising.org.

–E.E.

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Elizabeth Freeman Center providing services amid pandemic

Pittsfield — The staff and board of directors of the Elizabeth Freeman Center, the county’s frontline provider of services to survivors of domestic violence and sexual assault, have reported that the numbers of calls to the agency and walk-in clients have decreased significantly during the past few weeks, as they have at similar centers across the country.

Abuse survivors depend on many services that are increasingly difficult to access. According to EFC executive director Janis Broderick: “These are scary times for all of us, but especially for already vulnerable populations like abuse survivors! It is vitally important for the public to know that we are open and still providing services at our offices in Pittsfield and Great Barrington. The North Adams office is temporarily closed, but is expected to reopen next week. Working with a skeleton staff as well as having adequate space and hand-sanitizing stations allows us to provide social distancing even for walk-in clients. We can still offer emergency services (including food and shelter) to those fleeing abuse. Call our hotline 24 hours a day/seven days a week at (866) 401-2425. Nobody should be forced to live in a dangerous home, even during a pandemic!”

–E.E.

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Berkshire Nonprofit Awards go online, nomination deadline extended

Maria Sirois, Psy.D. Photo courtesy mariasirois.com

Great Barrington — The Nonprofit Center of the Berkshires is transforming the Berkshire Nonprofit Awards into a two-day virtual summit on nonprofit sustainability to be held Tuesday, May 19, and Wednesday, May 20.

The event will kick off Tuesday, May 19, at 10 a.m. with the awards celebration, followed by keynotes, presentations and workshops throughout the afternoon and the following day. Positive psychologist Maria Sirois, Psy.D., will give the opening keynote address on the topic of resilience.

Said NPC founder Liana Toscanini, “We’re excited about this new virtual format because we can add so much value for attendees including short interviews with the honorees, guest speakers on critical topics such as revenue diversification and virtual fundraising, and an online resource room.”

Tickets are $20 for the awards celebration only, $30 for NPC members to attend the full two-day offering, and $40 for nonmembers. Registration will be available online at the end of April. The awards nomination deadline has been extended to Wednesday, April 15. For more information, contact the Nonprofit Center of the Berkshires at info@npcberkshires.org.

–E.E.

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Greylock Federal Credit Union releases 2019 annual report, focuses on pandemic response

Pittsfield — Greylock Federal Credit Union has released its 2019 annual report and committed to using its financial resources and expertise to help the community respond to the COVID-19 pandemic. Greylock has postponed its annual meeting due to public safety concerns.

The report shows a 5.3% rise in deposits and an increase of regulatory capital to 10.7%. Other 2019 results included:

  • 87,722 member-owners;
  • $1.25 billion in total assets;
  • $1.07 billion in total loans;
  • $1.08 billion in total deposits; and
  • $7.6 million in total net income.

“While financial strength is important, the greatest asset we can offer our community resides in the strength and compassion of our people,” said President/CEO John L. Bissell. “Across our entire credit union, Greylock Investment Group, and Greylock Insurance Agency, our teams are working with hundreds of families and small businesses to address their individual financial challenges. We will try to work with any member encountering a financial hardship due to COVID-19. That might mean providing personal financial coaching; waiving fees; rethinking a credit card payment; or modifying a loan.”

Bissell vowed to continue to seek out solutions for the community: “We will continue to collaborate with other non-profit and industry partners across the region and across the country to deliver solutions that help all of us through this crisis.”

–E.E.